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#780024 - 04/04/05 08:29 PM Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
If you REALLY want your drum tracks to sound like drums sound on professional recordings, you can do it.

Step 1: Forget everything you think you know about recording
drums.
Step 2: Listen up!

Glyn Johns recorded classic rock albums (Beatles, Stones, Who) using a minimal mic setup. Here's a modified setup that will get you everything you could ever want in a drum sound. You'll be blown away if you follow ALL the directions.

1. New heads are vital. Drum heads are like guitar strings -- they go dead quickly and are a pain in the butt to change. But there's just no other way to get a good sound. It's a fact of life for recording drums.

2. Learn to tune drums. Well-tuned drums can be played wide open (NO muffling). That's true of every drum except the kick in all music but jazz. The kick needs careful muffling, which I'll cover later. In the studio, MINIMAL strategic muffling on the snare and toms may be necessary. But if it's more than a small piece of gaffer's tape, you're going too far.

3. This mic setup REQUIRES a combination of five elements, ALL of which are vital:
a) Good sounding, well-maintained drums.
b) New heads all around, top and bottom, chosen to maximize
the resonance of the drums. Usually that means medium
thickness on top (ex. Remo Ambassador) and either
medium or thin (Ex. Remo Diplomat) on resonant side.
c) An excellent drummer. No mic technique will make a bad
drummer sound good. Cymbal thrashers are bad drummers.
A great drummer plays with balance and dynamics.
d) A good engineer with a good set of ears.
e) The proper mics for the job. The mics can vary in quality
(that is, from excellent to awesome), but cannot vary in
TYPE.

OK, here goes. You need:

3 large-diaphragm condenser mics (Rode NT1A or better). This is the heart and soul of the setup.

1 SM-57 for the snare top.

1 Beyer M88 or equivalent for inside the kick.

Optional: Dynamic spot mics for the toms (I use Sennheiser e-604s clipped right to the rims); small diaphragm condenser for under snare drum (I use a Shure KSM. Note: You may need to invert the phase on the snare bottom mic).

The setup:

Place one large diaphragm condenser two feet above the kit. The diaphragm faces down between the snare and the rack toms. Measure the distance from the center of the snare to the diaphragm and make a note of it (In my case, 38 inches).

Place another large diaphragm condenser the same distance from the center of the snare and six inches above the floor tom. The diaphragm faces the hi hat, across the snare.

Place the third large diaphragm condenser in front of the kit, about three feet away, with the diaphragm facing the kit. You will need to listen to this mic to find the sweet spot for exact placement.

Listen to the three mics. This should sound absolutley killer -- like you can't imagine needing anything else. These three mics will give you 85-95% of your sound.

The mic inside the kick is required and is there to pick up the attack of the beater against the head. If you want to hear kick in your mix, you'll need to have separate control over that. Same with the spot mics for toms. They are optional because the large diaphragm mics are going to give you PLENTY of attack from the toms. The spot mics let you boost the toms slightly if you want to.

The snare mics are there to give you maximum tweek capability during mix. The SM-57 is required, but the underside condenser is optional (some engineers will tell you they hardly ever use the underside mic. I always use it). BUT REMEMBER, the three large diaphragms are the core of your sound. The other mics are there to capture sound you can use to tweek the overall drum sound with, but they should never compete with the three main mics.

Panning:

Pan the first large condenser left (9 o'clock), the second right (3 o'clock), and the third straight up. Pan the kick mic straight up as well. Pan the snare mics either striaght up or SLIGHTLY off-center. Pan the tom mics as they naturally fall in relation to the kit, but do not use extreme panning on the tom mics. Pan everything between 3 and 9 o'clock.

If this setup isn't giving you the best drum sound EVER, then there's something seriously wrong.

EQ:

You should not need to EQ the large diaphram mics at all. You should be able to get everything you need out of your compression settings. EQ the spot mics to enhance, not overtake. Remember that the three large diaphragms are your core sound. They should sound like God right out of the blocks. If they don't, adjust your mic placement and/or drum tuning until they do. You CANNOT "fix-it-in-the-mix" and still have a drum sound that rivals the pros, because the pros always get it perfect during tracking (that's WHY they are pros).

GOOD LUCK!!!!

Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780025 - 04/06/05 04:13 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
I & I mjrn Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/14/02
Posts: 2106
Loc: behind you...100%
OK...& all good advice as far as I know.
However, I've recently come to the conclusion that the best sounding drums of the 1960s British era were Dave Clark's.
Whatcha got there?

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#780026 - 04/06/05 08:51 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Nothing :-)

My post wasn't really meant to be about retro drum sounds -- just drum sounds generally. What I'm saying is that this modified setup, based on a classic 3-mic setup, is, in my opinion, the best way to track drums (unless you are going for something off-kilter). I've used every drum mic techinque imaginable over 20 years of engineering, but once I hit upon this setup, I never looked back.

Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780027 - 04/07/05 01:17 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
I & I mjrn Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/14/02
Posts: 2106
Loc: behind you...100%
Dug...
Just kinda hoping; I'd heard some oldies radio recently & was impresseed witht the sound on DC5 records.

Questions: What about other 1960s close-mic proponents like Paul Buff (Zappa's early mentor) or Geoff Emerick?

What ya think of overhead stereo micing?

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#780028 - 04/07/05 01:59 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
offramp Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/31/00
Posts: 5846
Loc: Golden, CO.
This'll be stupid, but Dave, I'm having a difficult time envisioning the setup; could be your particular wording, or my density and preoccupation with life issues (highly likely). Is there a diagram I can see on this?
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#780029 - 04/07/05 07:53 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
I will try to answer both posts above in this response.

OK, with regard to stereo overhead mics: I used them all the time before I discovered the Glyn Johns setup. Mostly, I used small diaphragm consensers in an X-Y arrangement.

The modified Johns setup I use now and describe here gives me a huge, natural sound right out of the blocks (FAR bigger and more open and natural that with small diaphragm stero overheads, and I attribute that directly to the difference between what a large diaphragm mic gives you, vs. what a small diaphragm mic can give you. Engineers and drummers spend hours, days -- years trying to get that great big John Bonham sound. It CANNOT be gotten with small diaphragm mics and close micing. Just can't.) Before I started using the technique I use now, I would spend hours getting the perfect placement of each mic, dealing with phase problems, etc. The setup I describe here takes about a half hour, and the result is amazing. This is definitely a case of less is WAY more. The reason for the sound difference is because close placement of small diaphragm mics mostly captures the sound of the heads (head resonance) and very little of the shell (shell resonance). Large diaphragm mics placed about three feet away pick up the entire drum sound -- that's why it sounds so huge and natural. That's also why the quality of the drums really matters with this technique. Head micing can sound great, but it will always sound thinner (other things being equal) when compared to getting the full drum sound. The pros can get close micing to sound both big and natural because they have access to ultra high-end EQs and compressors (worth tens of thousands of dollars) that do not degrade the original signal during processing. The EQs and compressors most small and home studios have access to just cannot undertake that kind of processing without making the original signal sound artificial and cheap. They are good units and are still expensive, but are best used sparingly. (This comment shouldn't make anyone feel bad, inadequate or discouraged. I don't know too many people who've spent $40,000 on a single compressor for their home studio).

Now for the answer about placement:

I'm sure it's how I worded it :-) The one mic over the whole kit is easy. It'll be right smack in the middle of the kit, about three feet above the snare. If you dropped a line down from the face of the diaphragm, it would fall right between the rack tom(s) and the snare, past the rim of the kick drum, and would end at the beater of your kick pedal in the resting position* (see note at end).

The mic near the floor tom is the same distance away from the snare as first mic, and the diaphragm is about 6 inches above the height of the floot tom. (So it's NOT the same height off the ground as the mic over the kit -- not even close. What you really have is one overhead mic and one side mic.) In my case the overhead mic is 63 inches off the floor, the right side mic is 38 inches off the floor. The diaphragms of both mics are exactly 38 inches from the center of the snare. The side mic diaphragm "looks" right across the floor tom and snare, directly at the hi hat.

The reason I said in the first post that you have to forget everything you think you know about drum tracking is because you have to get over the feeling that the placement of these two mics won't give you a true, natural stereo image. In reality, it gives you a BETTER, cleaner image than any other setup. You just pan the overhead at 9 o'clock and the side mic at 3 o'clock. Believe me, it's a very wide open sound that's a true stereo representation of the kit in space.

One of the beautiful things about this setup is that it provides a natural balance between all components of the kit. Unless the drummer is a cymbal thrasher, it will give you excellent balance between the snare and hi hat. A well-placed SM 57 as the snare mic will also keep hi hat leakage to a minimum.

NOTE: If you have lots of cymbals, or you place your cymbals way up in the air, you may have problems with this technique. If there are crash cymbals right next to the overhead mic, you're probably gonna have a problem. Back in the days when use of this technique was widespread, cymbals generally sat lower, more in with the kit. But as close micing got more popular, studio engineers wanted drummers to get the cymbals as far away from the drum mics as possible to facilitate isolation.

The technique I'm discussing is best described as a hollistic method of tracking drums. Even though you are using spot mics in order to gain some isolation, you are really micing the kit as a single instrument. As with anything, using this technique effectively takes getting used to and requires practice.

Hope this helps. If you still need a diagram, email me and I'll send you one.

Cheers,

Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780030 - 04/07/05 08:47 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
sidereal Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 692
Loc: San Francisco,CA
First, what a great opening post! Welcome to the forum, Dave.

Is what you're describing with the first two mics an arc? So if you used a string to measure straight up from the spot between snare and rack toms, that's mic 1, facing down toward the direction of the string. Then, without moving the bottom part of the string, just move the top part of the string over toward the floor tom and place the mic again at the same length and still facing in the direction of the string, but angled a little more toward the hat than the snare-rack-tom area. Does that make sense? Maybe I'd have to see a diagram too.

Have you found that this is a technique better suited to particular wood types? I would imagine a maple kit might work better with this style, since the wood is generally more resonant. But maybe it doesn't matter.

And I'd imagine more resonant heads also yield better results?
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#780031 - 04/07/05 09:41 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Soundcrafter Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 611
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Arc would be correct by my envisioning. Now my question is, how effectively could this technique be used live, assuming the kit is logistically correct? Of course monitors would have a big effect especially with the large diaphragms, but I still wonder if its tennets can be transferred to live.
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#780032 - 04/07/05 11:58 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Sidereal, Soundcrafter, thanks for the posts & questions. I'll try to answer them in this post.

Sidereal, thanks for the kind words. To your questions:

The lg. diaphragm mics 1 & 2 are equi-distant from the center of the snare head. I always have the diaphragm of #2 pretty much perpendicular to the ground, facing the hi hat, but looking across the floor tom head and the snare head.

As for heads, yes, I use medium weight heads - thicker heads don't resonate as much. However, if you have a big floor tom, sometimes a thick head is called for. I never use oil-filled heads or pinstripes though. I use coated ambassadors. The coating makes for a slightly warmer sound. If you want a brighter, *totally* open sound, then clear ambassadors (or the equivalent) are the way to go.

You bring up a great question about wood types for drums. I don't know if you play guitar, but -- Know how you can hear the difference in woods with acoustic guitars? Spruce top w/ mahagony sides and back sounds different than spruce top w/ rosewood sides and back. Solid sides and back sound different that laminated sides and back. Solid top sounds VERY different than laminated top. With close micing and stereo overheads on a drumkit, you can't tell anything except how the heads are tuned. And in a lot of ways, cheaper, less resonant composite drums work better with total close micing than the more expensive, loud, open, resonating drums. God forgive me for saying this (since it's practically drummer blastphemy), BUT -- that's why loads of people love '60s Ludwig kits. The drums are punchy as all get-out and have a great sound characteristic all their own. But they are punchy because they are slightly less resonant. They are less resonant not because they are cheap, but because they have wooden reinforcing rings inside the shells. Reinforcing rings are usually used to allow the drum shell itself to be thinner (thinner = more resonant). But on those old Ludwig kits, the reinforcing rings cut just enough of the shell resonance to make the drum resonate less and "thud" more. I'm not saying this is bad. Those drums do sound cool for certain things. BUT - while punchy drums with less ring and resonance can sound killer by themselves, they will get lost or sound dead in a good mix unless you add artifical resonance (reverb). Again, big commercial studios that have access to high-dollar ($10,000-plus) reverb can add simulate resonance and enhance that drum sound. Conversely, I seldom have to add any artificial anything to my drum sounds, 'cause the resonance is preserved. With the mic setup I use now, you can hear the difference between a birch kit and a maple kit and a mahogany kit -- because you can hear the shells, not just the heads! It's a very cool thing to listen to the differences in a controlled studio environment. Every detail is audible.

Hope that helped!

SoundCrafter, I'll try to answer your question:

You can use the principles of this technique live, under certain conditions. First, if the band insists on a ridiculous stage volume, forget it. But then, forget using any condensers. Rule 1 of live sound is: If it sounds bad (too loud, unbalanced, shrill) onstage, it's going to be hard to make it sound good out front. If it sounds great onstage, it should sound great out front. Lets say you're working with a band that knows how to play together and the stage sound is balanced. Depending on the monitor mixer's abilities (if there is a monitor mixer), the size of the stage and the proximity of other monitor mixes, you can use at least a variation of this technique live.

As a general rule, here's how it goes: If you can use drum overheads meaningfully (not just as cymbal mics) in the situation, you can use this technique. If you can use condensers as overheads, you can use condensers with this technique. I've done it -- I've also gotten pretty amazing results with dynamics in live situations too. But again, if it's earbleed time on a 12x10 stage, forget it - even if you can overcome onstage feedback, you'll get so much of everything in the drum mics, the FOH mix will sound like crap. The best thing to do in a case like that is pray :-)

HOWEVER -- suppose you're working with a band that plays well together, knows how to get good tone from their amps, has amps appropriate for the venue (that don't have to be loud as crap to sound good), and listens to the sound people. Now you have something to work with. IF you can get the stage volume to a resonable level and the monitor mixer knows what he or she is doing, you should have no problem using this technique. It would take a very controlled situation to be able to use large diaphragm condensers, but you could use excellent quality dynamics and maybe even small diaphragm condensers to get it. I've done it a bajillion times. It's not going to sound like the studio, but it can sound excellent for live, because the drums will sound like drums instead of like well-EQed cardboard boxes.

Email me if you want a diagram of the setup...

Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780033 - 04/08/05 09:27 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
rebonn Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/10/01
Posts: 441
Loc: Blairsville, Ga,
Hi Dave,
You mention the cymbals being closer to the mics on an overhead placement. That's why I prefer condencer mics (yes I also use large diaphram, AT 4050 etc...) in front of the kit. I guess I'm figuring the cymbals and drums are more of the same distance than an overhead placement.
The kick usually gets an EV N/D 868 or RE-20 and an Audix D1 on snare.
The condencers are usually run thruogh Distressors and limited (not compressed) in opto mode while the kit mics are usually run through an ACP88 and compressed.
Does anyone reverse the phase on the condencers? Kevin Doyle swears by this.
What polar patterns are preferred?
And yes, heads can die quick so new heads can be one of biggest factors in achieving a good drum sound.
A big great room wouldn't hurt either.
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#780034 - 04/08/05 07:35 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Rebonn, SO true about the room sound. It doesn't have to be a huge room, just a good sounding room with a nice natural reverb. The room I track my drums in at home is only 11 1/2 x 14 1/2 with a 9 ft ceiling. I love the way my drums sound in that room.

As for placing mics in front instead of overhead, the main thing is to capture the correct balance of the kit. Placing a mic overhead in the position I suggest gets a fully nuanced, natural snare sound that becomes the centerpiece. That snare sound is augmented with the signal from the SM-57 top and KSM bottom. Neither the rack tom nor the hi hat overpowers that snare sound, but they sound full and accurate too. If your placement preserves the balance such that the toms don't overpower the snare, then that would perfectly fine, I guess.

Remember, EQing the large diaphragm mics will almost certainly degrade the sound you've gotten. So it's important to make sure you have not only the sound, but the balance of the kit exactly right during tracking...

Reversing phase on an out-of-phase mic is how you bring all the mics into phase alignment, avoiding cancellation. You can actually hear phase problems. If the sound is thin, muffled, lacks low end or just doesn't sound "open," there's a phase problem. When tracking any instrument with multiple microphones, listen in mono and stereo. If mono sounds great and stereo sounds not-so great, you have a phase problem that needs correcting. If one or more mics are 180 degrees out of phase, just flip the phase reverse and you're fine. But most of the time, the phase isn't 180 degrees out. 180 degrees is "perfectly" out of phase. Usually, the phase is less than 180 degrees out, and flipping the phase reverse in that situation won't fully solve the problem! In that case you need to move mics around slightly till the problem goes away. As always, big studios have a huge advantage since they have gear that analyzes phase, so pro engineers can track drums perfectly in phase, with all the tracks perfectly time-aligned. I cannot emphasize enough what a huge difference this makes. A 3-10 millisecond time difference between tracks introduces an unbelievable amount of mud into the overall drum sound. There are ways small and home studio engineers can get phase-coherent, time aligned tracks, but that's another discussion.

I use cardioid pattern for drums.

Hope I helped,

Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780035 - 04/17/05 03:23 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
DrummerRob Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/12/03
Posts: 63
Loc: San Diego
Howdy...gotta question about the LgD mic in front of the set. 3 feet in front but how high? And pointed at bass drum? Thanks in advance.

Oh...do you have sound clips that I could hear.

RobS

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#780036 - 04/17/05 07:42 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
rebonn Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/10/01
Posts: 441
Loc: Blairsville, Ga,
I guess it depends on the size of the room. For me it's usually about 3 ft. away and about 4 ft. high pointing straight back at the kit, not angled up or down.
Dave, I time slip (nudge the room mics back) in the daw to compensate for phase. I sometimes run into more problems reversing the phase than time allighning the tracks. I wish I had one of those russion dragons.
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#780037 - 04/18/05 07:00 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Rebonn, I think you're partly right. I slip tracks for time alignment also. But strickly speaking (theoretically), there's a difference between phase coherence and time alignment. Once you print a single sound event out-of-phase, you can't correct that through time-alignment. As you pull the two signals closer in time, the cancellation will only get worse (more noticable).

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#780038 - 04/18/05 10:38 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
offramp Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/31/00
Posts: 5846
Loc: Golden, CO.
Exactly.

The timing of the signals may change--via 'slipping'--but the effect caused by the original time difference remains, as it was the actual signal recorded, and slipping it against a known-preferred track isn't going to change the priginal phase relationship of the two mics.
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#780039 - 04/20/05 09:23 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Funnelhead Offline
Member

Registered: 02/11/05
Posts: 13
Loc: Montreal
Hey Dave,

As someone new to the "recording world", I just want to thank you for detailing your amazing, thorough strategy for recording drums. I recently worked with a band on their demo and the drummer was IMO a "cymbal thrasher". I spent days on the post-prod. and the drums were a nightmare. Now I am actually looking forward to recording another drum kit.

By the way, I am going to do a web search on your body of work for some songs to use as reference material.

All the best to you!
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#780040 - 04/20/05 10:43 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
DrummerRob Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/12/03
Posts: 63
Loc: San Diego
I have a question. I'm new to recording at home so any advice from anyone is appreciated.

Heres what I "think" I know.

On the mixer I will set all channel levels and trim to Unity first.

Adjust trim until the mic in question hits approximately 0 level ouput

At this point I run the audio through a Tascam US 122 and set the inputs half way between line and mic

In Logic Pro I get a sound that goes off the scale so I'll adjust the channel slides on the mixer to make it better.

Right now it sounds better to the ear but Logic says my files are clipped. In fact Logic ALWAYS says my files are clipped even though I can't hear it most of the time.

So the quetions are really these, what do I need to do to get the maximum signal without conitual clipping? Or should I go be ear? Should I adjust the signal using trim first or sliders the way I'm doing it now.

Thanks again in advance.

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#780041 - 04/20/05 12:05 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
sidereal Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 692
Loc: San Francisco,CA
The answer I'd give is to not worry about getting a maximum signal. Set all faders to unity, set trims so you have a decent input signal, then go back and adjust fader output levels. It's a myth that you need to have this near-zero signal going to disk. Instead, record as you would mix. Remember that all of these discrete signals are going to be summed to a 2-track drum mix. Spread the bandwidth out. The kick and snare can be pumping pretty high, but don't need to flirt with the red. Everything else should be pretty low.

After you've tracked, you can compress and limit things to get the voume intensity you want. So...

Faders to unity, trims to, say half to 3/4 input signal (depending on particular drum instrument), Logic meters definitely nowhere near clipping.
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#780042 - 04/20/05 04:25 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Funnelhead:

Thanks very much for the kind words. I've just spelled out what works for me! When you search for my body of work, let me know if you find anything! LOL

Regarding drum thrashing, I'm going to start a new thread dedicated to just that topic. Hope you'll join in!

DrummerRob:

You need to start over. You are experiencing a major problem with headroom that can be fixed through proper gain structure. You really should do some research online on the topic of gain structuring. Here's the bottom line -- you have to learn the concepts and apply them to your situation, because what's proper depends on your equipment and how it all works together. All equipment (ESPECIALLY consumer/semi-pro equipment) has different degrees of headroom. General rule: headroom is expensive. The best gear has plenty of headroom. The quality of your mic preamps plays especially heavily into this equation. Plus, if you are using Tascam, you probably have -10db gear mixed with +4db gear, and that can be a major problem. Also, be sure to check that the same pin is hot across the signal path (your Tascam gear might present a problem there too.)

In order to get the best out of your recording rig, you need to properly set the gain structure through the signal chain for EACH recording channel. Generally speaking, you will need some basic test equipment to do that (which you should be able to rent for a couple of days). You really need to do this in order to get your money's worth out of your gear.

There just is no hard-and-fast rule about where to set trim pots, etc. I do NOT recommend that you "record as you would mix." Recording is one thing, mixing is another (faders are for mixing, not recording), and it's imperative to print the hottest signal possible. Failure to do this is the number one reason why home recordings don't sound anything like professional recordings!

Some topics to search on the Net:

Recording +

- Gain structure
- Signal-to-noise ratio
- Headroom

Please continue to post questions if you have them!

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#780043 - 04/21/05 10:26 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
DC Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/17/01
Posts: 2706
Loc: here to eternity...
This is a very cool thread and I'm glad you posted it Dave. I'd really like to experiment with this setup, primarily the main three mics. My question is, could you give a priority to the three LD Condensors? If you've got one great one, and another up there one, and a third that is pretty good, where should I start? Which position is the most important, second most important, etc?

I know, I know, experiment, but I'd like a starting point.

Thanks!
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http://www.garageband.com/artist/MichaelangelosMuse

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#780044 - 04/22/05 08:00 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
DC:

In my estimation, the order of priority would be :

1) Overhead
2) Side
3) Front

Good Luck!

-Dave Scoven
dscoven@verizon.net

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#780045 - 04/24/05 12:05 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
sidereal Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 692
Loc: San Francisco,CA
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Scoven:
I do NOT recommend that you "record as you would mix." Recording is one thing, mixing is another (faders are for mixing, not recording), and it's imperative to print the hottest signal possible. Failure to do this is the number one reason why home recordings don't sound anything like professional recordings!
This is simply not true, not with 24 bit. In the 16-bit days you needed to get close to the red or there would be a reduction in resolution. Not true with 24-bit. Nobody's recording really hot drum signals anymore because it's not necessary. And if you record at lower levels and, yes, record as you plan to eventually mix, you can actually hear a kit with some space and let it breathe and anticipate how it will eventually sound in the mixing stage.

You can have, for example, the kick and snare reasonably strong on the input stage, and have overheads, room, and to some extent, tom mics a bit lower. There's no need to be looking at -3db on overheads and then lose a good take because the drummer went a little hotter than expected and clipped.

In other words, mellow out on the levels going to disk. If you record as you plan to eventually mix, you get into the mindset of how the drumkit instrument sounds while tracking and will eventually sound at the mixing stage.
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#780046 - 04/24/05 05:22 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
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Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Sidereal:

I agree in part and disagree in part. I was just having this same discussion with an engineer buddy of mine -

It's true, theoretically, that 24 bit digital is more forgiving in the way you say. And if you are recording from a digital source, then no, you don't have to "top out" the meters.

But when recording an acoustic source, *especially* with anything less than the very best microphones and Neve or API preamps, then basic recording techniques still apply. That's because you are dealing with noise floor issues, just like always.

As I mentioned above, it is very difficult to record great drum sounds if you have little-to-no headroom to work with, etc.
But hey - I have my own techniques for maximizing signal-to-noise ratio when recording drums, other people have theirs. If they are satisfied with the mixes they get, then I'm happy for them.

Personally, I have always tracked as though someone else were going to mix. Every sound captured is clean, crisp and strong - and that's what every good tracking engineer I know does.

As another member of this site says frequently - "your mileage may vary!" LOL

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#780047 - 04/25/05 06:58 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
miroslav Offline
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Dave

Sounds like a good mic setup...but I can simplify it even more...and still get you a huge drum kit sound.

1. A dynamic mic on snare. I use an SM57.

2. A dynamic inside the kick. I use a Sennheiser 602.

3. An M/S pair overhead, about 4 feet high, directly over the kick pedal and aimed left/right to capture both "ends" of the whole kit.
In my case, I use a matched pair of GT AM52's.

I run all four mics into my 4-channel CLM Dynamics DB400 mic pre, which has built in M/S codecs, and end up with 4 drum tracks...Snare, Kick and Left/Right stereo kit.

I can vary the "width/depth of the kit by how much stereo pair VS. snare/kick I mix in...and usually the faders are about even, with just a bit more Snare and a pinch more Kick.

The whole kit mix is killer!

Someone would have to hold a gun to my head to make me waste time on some other drum kit setup! \:D
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#780048 - 04/25/05 09:09 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Tedly Nightshade Offline
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There's just no call to chase around levels with 24 bit. I regularly record with peaks at -12 to -16dBfs (full scale digital).

Not only that, but intersample overs are a real hazard, especially on percussion, and can be as much as 6dB over the hottest sample! And all your peak meters are telling you is how hot the hottest sample was.

So leave some headroom!
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#780049 - 04/26/05 08:38 AM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
rebonn Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/10/01
Posts: 441
Loc: Blairsville, Ga,
Miroslav,
That's basiclly the same set up I use.
Have you ever tried reversing the phase on the overhead condencers?
Tedly,
I see the analog digital difference in levels
monitoring the recording levels out from a hd24 through an analog Soundcraft console.
I rely mostly on the console's meters.
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#780050 - 04/26/05 12:58 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
miroslav Offline
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No...never tired it...but then, the mix of all 4 drum mics sound pretty much "in sync"...so I never really had a reason to try reversing the phase.

I'll check it out next time I track drums...might sound even better than what I have now!

The only change I made once, was flipping around the position of the "S" mic.
Basically, I just reversed the capsule's orientation, 'cuz my drummer is a lefty...
...but I wanted the drums to appear as though they were played by a right handed drummer (audience perspective). \:D
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#780051 - 05/02/05 11:19 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
DrummerRob Offline
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Registered: 09/12/03
Posts: 63
Loc: San Diego
"Recording is one thing, mixing is another (faders are for mixing, not recording), and it's imperative to print the hottest signal possible."

Ok Dave...so are you saying that I should leave the faders alone and set the trim pots accordingly to get a good signal?

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#780052 - 05/04/05 10:56 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
Dave Scoven Offline
Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Richmond, VA USA
Rob:

Yes, that's right. Remember what you are doing here. I'm assuming you have some way of going directly out of your preamps to your recorder. Use the trim pots to set your levels. If you can't go directly out of your preamp -- well, you just need to be able to do that, 'cause NOT doing that is how you get your gain structure all screwed up!

There's been lots of discussion in this thread on how hot the signal needs to be. When I say "the hottest signal possible," I don't mean push it to 0db of headroom -- (duh) -- I mean get the hottest signal you can and still have reasonable headroom. The reason for that is to get as high above the noise floor as possible, in order to maximize your signal-to-noise ratio.

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#780053 - 05/16/05 02:11 PM Re: Tracking Drums - modified Glyn Johns technique
captain54 Offline
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Registered: 12/06/00
Posts: 146
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
I've never really gotten this technique to work that well for me....my problem, at least with a LDC over on the floor tom side, is that the mic ends up picking up some major ride cymbal, since it seems that particular mic is less than a foot from the ride....I guess if you have your ride really really low, or maybe way off to the right it would be fine, but my ride is sort of two o'clock and about even with my rack toms...

I get much better results when I take two small condensors and put one above the snare and one sort of behind the drummers right ear...both equidistant to the snare...I've used just these two mics and a kick mic and have gotten a pretty good snapshot of what the kit sounds like...

then I just pan left and pan right with the kick in the center....EQ the whole damn thing with a little boost around 100hz and a dip in the 500-1000hz slot...a PSP vintage warmer on the entire submixes also kind of glues it together...

my room is pretty small too...low ceilings...packing blanket overhanging the drums...

If I could get the Glyns John method to work I'd like to try it, but how do you guys get past that floor tom side mic picking up excessive ride??

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